In our last blog post, we explored how we might be standing in the way of our own growth. We suggested a simple activity to become more aware of your actions and feelings; observing yourself. Did you do it? Did you take notes on the activities you do throughout the day and the way those things make you feel?
If not, it might be a good idea to go back to the last blog post and do that activity before reading any further. This post is all about what to do with your notes and observations – and, ultimately, how to start getting out of your own way.
Taking Inventory of Your Activities & Feelings
Let's start by taking inventory. Reviewing your notes, make a master list of all the activities you engaged in. Put them on the left side of the page. On the right side of the page, jot down the feelings you experienced while doing those activities.
We are creatures of habit, so it's likely you repeated different activities. There's no need to write those down multiple times unless there are marked differences.
The different things we consume, both in terms of media and food, affect us differently. As does the setting in which we consume them. You may want to differentiate not only between eating healthy foods and eating junk foods, but also between eating alone, eating with a partner, eating in front of the TV, or eating while reading a book. As for the media and content we consume, it will be useful to differentiate between watching the news and watching a comedic sitcom. The directions here aren’t one size fits all. Essentially you should call out differences if they made you feel differently.
Once you have the list done with activities on the left side and feelings on the right side, go through and "take inventory". Consider the following questions: Which activities made you feel better and which ones made you feel worse? Which ones helped you and which ones harmed you? Which activities increased your energy and made you feel most connected? Which activities seemed to drain you and make you feel most disconnected?
Looking back at the "where you are" and "where you want to be" exercises from the last blog post, which activities move you closer to "where you want to be"? Which ones might be keeping you stuck "where you are"?
Choosing One New Healthy Habit
Now that you’re aware of how different activities affect you, we have a new challenge for you: Build a new healthy habit by adding one new positive activity to your day.
It can be anything that you think will make you feel good and get you closer to "where you want to be."
Here are some examples:
Take a minute to write down 3 things you're grateful for every morning.
Add 10 minutes of movement to your day.
Add one serving of greens to a meal.
Meditate for 5 minutes every morning.
Call a friend or family member every day.
Read before bed (not on a screen).
It may be tempting to try and adopt a few new habits at once. But, to start, try doing just one. Habit change tends to be easier and more sustainable when you work on one thing at a time. As James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says, “the best way to change your entire life is by not changing your entire life. Instead, it is best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.”
Making a Plan to Follow Through
Once you know what new habit you want to build, it’s time to make a simple plan.
Ask and answer these questions:
What are you going to do?
When are you going to do it?
Where are you going to do it?
What’s going to remind you to do it?
Responding to these questions is key as studies* show that having a plan, or “implementation intention”, makes you 2-3x more likely to follow through, and follow-through is what you need to conquer your can’t.
If you’re following through with this challenge, please let us know and keep us posted on how it’s going. We’d love to hear about what’s working for you and would be happy to help keep you accountable.
1- Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey,” American Psychologist 57, no. 9 (2002): 705–717, doi:10.1037//0003–066x.57.9.705
2- Sarah Milne, Sheina Orbell, and Paschal Sheeran, “Combining Motivational and Volitional Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions,” British Journal of Health Psychology 7 (May 2002): 163–184.